Saturday, October 29, 2005
Turns - Kashmir for better and Iran for worse!
Ghulam Nabi Azad is all set to take over as the next Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. Despite the overwhelming support from the media for Mufti Muhammad Sayeed's continuance, the Congress has decided to wrest the Government from PDP. I believe this is a right move. To begin with, all the arguments supporting the PDP rule seem misplaced to me. Although Mufti's role has to be appreciated, the situation in Kashmir was going to improve anyway. Today's relative peace and optimistic future predictions for Kashmir stem from three factors. The "free and fair" elections to the assembly restored some confidence among the people. Then the marked (or forced?) change in Pakistan's strategy to slowly but steadily unwind the Jihad factory in Kashmir. As the consequence of these two, there is more willingness than ever before among the separatists and the not-so-India-friendly population of the Kashmir Valley, to play ball with India. Infact the real utility and hence the 'Editorial' appreciation for PDP stems from the fact that its supporters are perceived to be pro-separatists. However we should note that the Congress has almost twice the number of seats as the PDP. (Albeit with post election additions) It's been three decades since Congress ruled the state. Successive National Conference governments have been unpopular or perceived as puppet regimes of Delhi. A further dose of regionalism (or say Kashmiri Nationalism) could be counter productive. Besides it also gives the Jammu region a much needed break. Let us help the Kashmiri's to cut down on their bloated egos a bit! As for the future, I would like the Congress and the National Conference to play prominent roles and at some point we should bring the moderate Hurriyat into the political arena. Since the PDP shares the same base as that of the Hurriyat, its continued prominence will only keep the separatist elements away. I hope parties like Sajjad Lone's People's Conference and the likes of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Shabbir Shah take PDP's place and return to the political high ground. Well!, actually I guess I'm only day-dreaming! It may turn out that PDP only gains from this change over and plays the now familiar Left role of being both in the government and the opposition! As a tail-piece on Kashmir, if last weeks Indian comments about Gilgit disturbances are part of a larger strategy to test waters in POK, then nothing can be better! Ok what about Iran? Although I wasn't entirely surprised, Iranian President Ahmedinijad's statement about "wiping Israel of the map" is one of the worst diplomatic moves I have ever heard of. Its totally uncalled for considering Iran's precarious position in its Nuclear diplomacy and also irresponsible leadership. In hindsight I feel, Iran would have done itself a huge favor by opting for a rational leader who could further its progress than for one who seems willing to follow the likes of Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez as a global maverick. When India voted against Iran at IAEA sometime back, I felt it was unjustified (I still do). But I guess we should now use the next vote as a bargaining chip to put some sense into the Iranian leadership.